The debate on the level of education and skills required for the teaching profession has been raging on for a long time. The fact is that the teaching profession is critical to economic growth as teachers determine the quality of students graduating from our schools ready for training in professional fields. While some believe that an education masters degree does not necessarily make a better teacher, others are of the view that teaching should be made a masters level profession. The proponents of having an education masters degree argue that it will add to the teachers’ mastery of their subject area as well as add to their teaching skills. Ideally this is the out come of undergoing this degree program. The graduate program gives teachers and other education stakeholders specialized skills in their subjects, advanced practical teaching skills and research methods.
Shift in market
More and more school districts and private institutions are preferentially hiring teachers with advanced teaching qualifications. Remuneration and promotion decisions are now more than ever also greatly influenced by teachers’ educational qualifications. It is therefore clear that as things stand the trend is towards having teachers acquiring education masters degrees. However there have been calls for caution in teacher evaluation with calls for a look at actual output and performance. The debate in the area of acquiring the masters degree has also been influenced in part by the argument on whether “how to teach” skills are superseded by knowledge in subject content. In essence do we need a teacher with advanced knowledge in a subject area or one with much more teaching skills background. The argument here is whether there is need to have teachers with more practical teaching skills or academic qualifications.
A good masters program should create a better educator. Teachers should be able to transfer knowledge, offer guidance, leadership and be able to train and encourage independent thinking in learners. Since a maters program will advance on previously acquired knowledge as well as building on experience in the field, a teacher should be able to cement their skills in the profession. Education masters programs are focused on specialized areas such as pedagogical methods, education economics, special needs education and curriculum development. The focus is on giving specialized skills to the teachers who already have teaching skills and subject knowledge in their area of interest. Most universities offer their education masters degrees with an option for online study. These online study programs are ideal for teachers who are already working.
Although there is some level of controversy on the merits and demerits of education masters degree programs to the education system, they remain a good path for career advancement for educators. The challenge for working teachers is the balance of their teaching work, grading of exams and assignments, planning for lessons and studying for their education masters course work. Teaching is a noble yet very demanding career that demands much dedication from the teacher. Pursuing an education masters degree while working as a teacher calls for even greater sacrifice.